Airport Review: Chicago's O'Hare International Airport
In Yahoo Travel’s Airport Review series, we dissect everything you need to know — from check-in to take off to landing. Oh, and curious what it takes to get a perfect, 5-star rating? A hotel beyond security check — and not many pass the test.
(Photo: Nick Harris/Flickr)
Airport Star Rating: 4 stars. A superhub for business travelers and connecting flights across the globe, Chicago O’Hare International Airport is the fifth busiest airport in the world. United Airlines uses O’Hare as its largest departure hub, and O’Hare has been touted often as the best airport in North America.
The Good: Landing at O’Hare is like getting a taste of what’s to come in the city of Chicago. Top-notch restaurants can be found in every terminal, and cleanliness is king at this incredibly busy, four-terminal airport. Plenty of roomy bathrooms feature automatic toilet seat covers and hand sanitizer. There are also lots of charging stations and high-end shopping options.
The Bad: Delays. Everyone’s main gripe about O’Hare is getting delayed due to Chicago’s unpredictable and often brutal winter weather, especially around holidays. It’s so common, in fact, that O’Hare provides cots, blankets, and toiletries to what often amounts to hundreds of travelers stranded overnight at the airport.
The dreamy tunnel between Concourse B and Concourse C (Photo: Anne Worner/Flickr)
Walkability: O’Hare is huge, and if you are at a far-flung gate, expect a trek. That said, the airport offers assistance to passengers with disabilities as well as carts to transport people to connecting flights. To connect from Concourse B to Concourse C, United travelers can use the dreamy tunnel, where a moving walkway glides beneath an overhead light show, while a slow-moving rendition of “Rhapsody in Blue” plays in the background. It’s quite relaxing.
Security and Immigration: You’ll always want to arrive two hours before your flight. Security is efficient and the TSA tends to be friendly, but long security lines with hour-long waits are not unheard of. The nice thing is that the security area is well staffed, and the lines are efficient and organized, even when incredibly long. A plus for environmentalists? There are sinks at security to dump out any liquids from bottled water or soda, and there is the option to recycle the plastic bottle there or keep it to refill at a drinking fountain once past security. Also, there is a Starbucks right outside the domestic security gate for early or late-night travelers jonesing for a java fix.